My pastor is currently preaching through a series on conflict. I have benefited so much from his deep exposition of the Word of God on this topic. To complement my pastor’s series on conflict I decided to write a hymn that addresses the topic of biblical unity. I plan to teach the tune to our church first, but for now I would like to share the lyrics.
The title, How Good to Dwell in Unity, comes straight from one of my favorite Psalms.
Behold, how good and pleasant it isPsalm 133
when brothers dwell in unity!
It is like the precious oil on the head,
running down on the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
running down on the collar of his robes!
It is like the dew of Hermon,
which falls on the mountains of Zion!
For there the Lord has commanded the blessing,
I reference Psalm 133 through the title and the main “hook,” then develop some key New Testament ideas of unity in the stanzas. Here’s the first one:
We join to worship God,
United in this place,
For we are one through God’s own Son,
A testament to grace.
Every time the church gathers together in one physical place, it is a visible testament to God’s grace poured out on us all in Jesus Christ. We are united as Christ’s body. What better way to affirm the unity of God’s church than to sing about it together?
We gather ‘round your Word,
To hear the gospel truth,
Confess a creed, admit our need
For comfort and reproof.
The second stanza focuses on the source of our unity. Unity is impossible unless we first agree on a standard. We experience true unity when we make the Word of God our ultimate standard. Additionally, many churches like my own agree on a biblically-based church covenant. Some churches audibly confess a creed together. While those covenants and creeds are fallible (because they are written by men), inasmuch as they align with God’s truth they are good and useful. When we turn together to Scripture for comfort in sorrow and for correction of sin, we strengthen church unity.
Should we, who Christ forgives,
Lead unforgiving lives?
Is spreading lies or taking sides,
The way a fam’ly thrives?
This third stanza intentionally breaks the mold. It pictures what happens to the church when its members cause disunity. While every other stanza begins with “we” to signify unity, the “we” in stanza 3 is delayed just a little. Hard questions gently confront a divisive brother or sister. Failing to forgive means we do not fully understand the forgiveness of Jesus Christ. Dividing the body of Christ through selfishness reveals we do not care about the health of the body. We only care about our personal agenda.
We come as one in Christ,
To crucify our pride.
Till hand in hand by faith we stand,
His perfect, holy bride.
The final stanza anchors our unity in Jesus Christ, giving the solution to the problem of stanza 3. The Bible teaches that Christ has died for my sin so that I can die to my sin (Romans 6:1-4; Colossians 3:1-5). What a beautiful picture, that we as a church would crucify our pride through our union with Christ. Someday we will join hands with every saved sinner. Indeed, Jesus Christ will ensure it happens, for without unity, there is no perfect bride.
How good to dwell in unity,
In Spirit-led humility,
Affirming truth in harmony,
In precious unity!
The chorus bookends with allusions to Psalm 133, as I already mentioned. Also note all the “in” prepositions to emphasize togetherness.
The chorus also references the important work of the Holy Spirit in maintaining unity. The Bible teaches we are all united in Christ by the Spirit. Our submission to the Spirit is evidence of humility. Spirit-led humility unites; selfish pride divides.
And what better way to picture our unity around the truth than through a musical metaphor? When we affirm truth, we allow God to tune our hearts to sing in perfect harmony, both in our doctrine and in our lives. Oh how I pray that truth would resonate in our churches! “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” (1 Jn. 3:18).